North Devon Hospice gave my mum her dignity back

North Devon Gazette

I felt Mum’s dignity was being taken away by the illness, but the hospice gave her dignity back, and that made me so happy. I will never forget it. Â

Coping with my mum’s terminal cancer diagnosis was hard enough. Living and working more than 250 miles away made things even more difficult, but when North Devon Hospice stepped in to look after my mum, Dee Lythgoe, I instantly felt reassured.Â

A lovely hospice nurse called Julie came to visit Mum regularly at home and she was just so fantastic, a real straight-talker. She would always phone to keep me in the loop, which made the distance feel like less of a barrier. Â

To me, my mum was the most important thing in the universe, and Julie helped me to feel closer and more involved in the situation, even when I couldn’t physically be there. She also helped me deal with my emotions and reassuring me that what was happening was perfectly normal. Â

When it became clear Mum had just weeks to live, my employer allowed me to relocate to Devon temporarily to be near her. Mum wanted to spend her final days at North Devon Hospice, after we’d gone for a visit there together and couldn’t believe how amazing it was. Â
I’d never been to a hospice before in my life. I can’t tell you what I was expecting, but it was a really lovely experience, with such beautiful private rooms. We both knew that this was where Mum should be when the time came, because we felt safe and secure, knowing she would be looked after by these wonderful people at the hospice. Â

One day, Mum’s condition deteriorated really quite quickly. It was a scary time, but we were able to get her to the hospice. While that day was horrendous because of what we had to cope with, it was also a big relief at the same time. When we got her out of the ambulance at the hospice, she looked at me and we smiled at each other, as if to say, ‘we got you here.’ We knew once we were at the hospice, everything would be alright. Â

Mum was instantly made comfortable, and I could sit by her bed holding her hand. I didn’t want to leave her side for a minute, because she was just the best mum in the world and I wanted to make the most of every moment with her. Â

As it was getting late, and without me even having to ask, the hospice nurses wheeled another bed into mum’s room, so I could just be with her. I lay my head down on the pillow and looked across at Mum, I was so grateful to be so close to her. She passed away peacefully that night, the way I hoped it would happen. Â

The nurses were brilliant at that time. They took me aside and gave me a cuppa and a chat. They have a sixth sense of what people need and when, stepping in and guiding you when you need it, always with a smile on their faces. They really do all deserve medals. Â

My experience has inspired me to start planning how I can support North Devon Hospice, so other families can receive the same care in their hour of need. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through, and no-one prepares you for something like that. Â

No-one says what happens when someone you love has terminal cancer, but the hospice were there for us every step of the way. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without them, which is why I can’t bear to think of another local family going through this without them. I’ll do whatever I can to support the cause because, without this wonderful charity, so many people would be lost. Â

Kate DeightonÂ
Supported by North Devon HospiceÂ